Trench Reynolds is a noted cybercrime blogger whose publications include MyCrimeSpace, CraigsCrimeList , and The TrenchCoat. His blogs have been cited in various news outlets including The Boston Globe, The San Francisco Chronicle, Time, and CBS News.
SSI: Who are you?
TR: I’m a 42-year-old married stepfather of two from Charlotte, NC who works in medical accounting in his secret identity life.
SSI: How did you get into cybercrime blogging? TR: You could say I was dragged into it. At the time of Columbine, I was using the screen name “The Trenchcoat.” A national media outlet inferred at the time that I had some kind of connection to Columbine. I started blogging in order to defend my “name” and then started blogging about school shootings which led to me to blog about other crimes.
SSI: How has the rise of social networking – Facebook, Twitter, etc. – changed the way cybercriminals commit crimes? What techniques do they use? TR: Since social networking sites are mostly used by teens, they have allowed predators to gain easy access into the lives of their victims long before they ever come into contact with them. For the most part the techniques have stayed the same only the medium has changed. Grooming of children by pedophiles can go unnoticed for long periods of time if parents aren’t watching their children’s online activity.
SSI: What types of crimes are being committed online – particularly ones targeting children? TR: With sites like MySpace and Facebook, it runs the gamut from trying to get explicit pictures from children all the way up to rape, kidnapping, and murder. One of the more fascinating crimes I’ve found is predators who try to convince girls they can get them into modeling.
SSI: How would you describe overall awareness of cyber-crimes in the US? TR: Typically I think the awareness of most people in the US goes from one extreme to the other. It’s either social sites are the most evil thing on the face of the earth or they’re harmless. For a lot of parents there is no happy medium.
SSI: Have you discovered any commonalities among cyber-criminals? TR: There are definitely patterns especially among sexual predators. It’s almost like there is a textbook being shared among them. The one that leaps to mind is adults posing as teens online in order to gain an underage child’s confidence.
SSI: Are there any new techniques that cyber-criminals are using -particularly when it comes to harming kids? TR: One of the more fascinating techniques I’ve noticed in the past two years or so are predators who try to convince girls they can get them into modeling. And the girls believe them just because the predator says so on their social site.
SSI: How can parents protect their kids better online? TR: I can’t stress this enough but get involved. The two most important things I recommend are not to let children have computers in their room and not let them use webcams unattended.
SSI: How can technology empower parents to protect their kids better online? TR: There are programs out there that can record your child’s online activity. You may trust your children, but can you trust who they’re talking to online?
SSI: Are there any websites that parents should be particularly wary of their children frequenting? TR: Craigslist leaps immediately to mind. While they may have recently closed down their adult services section there are still plenty of raw sections on Craigslist that children should not be exposed to. There’s been more than one case of child molestation that has been facilitated on the pages of Craigslist.
SSI: What goals do you have for your cyber-crime blogs? TR: Education is the primary goal. I’m just trying to make parents more aware of the dangers on the Internet and not just the ones you hear about every day but also ones you may never have even thought about.